By Camalla Keith
Let’s face it – there are some people in this world that absolutely love working out. They love eating right. Maybe they just love everything, including Mondays. And they love to advertise the dedication they have to their routine. We’ll call this group “the Enthusiasts.” Alternatively, there are people that work out unostentatiously, sometimes at a gym, sometimes at home, are less fanatical than the Enthusiasts, and are not much for advertising. Working out is not the highlight of their day, but something they deem necessary. We can call this group the“go-getters,” admirable and far less obnoxious to the average citizen. Then, there are those with just enough vanity to go to the gym so that people can see them working out. After all, if people see you working out, they automatically think you have it together, right? We like to call these the “look-sees,” and they are, in fact, easily spotted. There is the “episodic worker-outer,” one who is motivated by an upcoming event, maybe a wedding or a vacation, or the dreaded class reunion. And finally, there are those who simply go to a restaurant, look at the menu, and order something delicious. Come to think of it, a cheeseburger does sound yummy… but I digress.
Having loosely defined our workout categories, let’s take a trip back to the 1950s. If you want to pretend you’re Marty McFly, we won’t stand in your way. What kinds of people do you see? Are these people overweight? Are they working out? Are they standing in line at the pharmacy waiting for their blood pressure medication to be refilled at the age of 35? The answer is probably no. And why not? Plates. Yep, plates. Not pushups, or pull ups, or Pilates, or planking. Plates.
Here is the dinner plate down low – the diameter of a dinner plate in the 50s was approximately 10 inches. By 2010, it had crept up to 12 inches. To make these numbers plate-relatable, the size of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s dinner plates is comparable to today’s salad plates. According to a 2012 study by Brian Wansink and Koert van Ittersum, we consider a serving to be whatever fits on our plate or in our bowl. Therefore, it stands to reason our portions will become smaller if we have less space on which to put them. In other words, we eat with our eyes, not our stomachs.
Now, let’s reset our DeLorean back to 2017. A difference of two inches in plate diameter may not sound like much, but if you consider that adding the calorie equivalent of two Hershey’s Kisses to your overall daily intake can result in a five pound weight gain per year, suddenly two inches becomes relevant. And, according to the same plate authorities referenced above, evidently the color of your plate is important. We won’t bore you with those statistics, but trust us when we say white plates are best for any meal that is not, well, white. If you have an aversion to colored foods, go with a colored plate. If you have an aversion to colored foods and
colored plates, portion size may not be your biggest issue.
We purposefully left out the number of calories in two Hershey’s Kisses. Why? Partly because chocolate is delightful, and because calorie counting requires constant effort. This is why people are more likely to put lost weight back on – that much daily math is exhausting. It’s so much easier to trick your mind. What? Trickery? Is that what we are resorting to? Pretty much. At the risk of encouraging an evening of couch potato syndrome, turn your television on from 4 pm to 8 pm. How many food related commercials do you see? Don’t worry about keeping exact numbers. In fact, you’re likely to lose count. The food industry controls our “appetites” through a media blitz during the hours that people are most likely to eat. If they can control our eyes, aka our stomachs, why can’t we?
Of course, Lucy and Ricky didn’t have garage door openers. Ozzie and Harriet didn’t have email. These couples walked to their mailboxes for their mail every day and manually opened the garage door. They cleaned their own houses and mowed their own lawns, with…wait for it…a push mower. Activity always helps in any health regimen. But you don’t have to carve out an extra hour from your already crazy day to increase your activity level. Standing burns more calories than sitting. On days when the weather is nice, park in the farthest parking spot from the door when you go to work, the grocery store, or the mall. If you’re in a hurry, don’t skip on the tumble-weed parking spot, just run. (In addition to the plate thing, we also believe that, while running in a parking lot might make you feel self-conscious, if you run fast enough no one actually sees you. Think Superman.) And notice we didn’t ask you to endure inclement weather for the sake of physical activity – we firmly believe in a practice-what-you-preach approach, and that seemed, well…unreasonable.
Speaking of unreasonable, is it ridiculous to suggest overhauling your everyday place settings? After all, there is some expense to that. The answer is no, not really. Obesity rates have jumped from approximately nine percent of the overall population in the 1950s to an average of 37 percent of the American population today. Studies also show that the percentage of overweight Americans has doubled since 1997. Furthermore, an overweight person will spend nearly $1500 more a year on medical care than someone with a healthy weight. The average cost of a set of small, white dishes is anywhere from $30 to $200. Plates, you asked? Yep. Plates.